A Gadget for the Garden?

Tagging the ash tree in my front garden using the Ash Tag app

I love blogging about gardening, but that does set up a conflict - it can keep me away from the the place I write about. A compromise I've tried - and failed with so far - is to work in the garden.

So I was interested when I was lent the pictured tablet for a while last year to see if it fared better than my botched attempts with my laptop.

There are a couple of design features in its favour - the ports have covers, which protect them from dust and grime, plus it's waterproof. Like all gadgets of this nature it has a much longer battery life than my laptop, so potentially I could stay in the garden all day - well, about 8 hours - if I wanted. It's also a lot lighter to carry around.

So far, so good... but how did I actually get on?

On the plus side, it was perfect for using apps like the pictured Ash Tag, particularly because pictures taken with the tablet could be uploaded directly into the app. Picture quality is good, though of course it can't match most cameras. However, I've found using the website version of the app + loading camera pictures is a bit fiddly, so overall the tablet had the slight edge for this task.

It also proved useful when visiting NAH's aunt. She had some mystery plants to identify, but no internet connection or books to hand. I was able to whip out the tablet and confirm the mystery packet of seeds she'd planted were wallflowers, not the sweet williams she thought they were. NB this was using a 3G connection, I wasn't able to test the 4G connectivity claimed for this product.

It was fine for reading blogs (much nicer than using NAH's mini tablet as this is the larger variety) and adding comments to mine and other blog posts. However, writing more than just a very simple blog post proved to be rather a trial. This was partly because I like to add links and most of my posts are of the longer sort - still achievable with a tablet, but more fiddly to do than on my laptop. I also found there was a problem with viewing Blogger blogs using Dynamic View templates (see picture) and any widget using Flash isn't supported.

I didn't really test the tablet's waterproof claims, but the odd splash from a passing shower didn't pose a problem. Besides, I don't really see blogging in the rain taking off as a new activity for me.

The main drawback with using this outside is the screen glare. The top picture was taken on a dull day and you can see there's still quite a lot of reflection. Therefore, my dreams of being able to work comfortably outside remain thwarted.

Overall verdict

This is a great tablet with features (and price) which place it in the upper part of the market. It has a relatively good camera compared to its rivals and good sound quality. Its features make it easier to use in the garden than most, but for me that wouldn't make it the reason for buying one.

Having said that, guess what Santa bought me for Christmas :)

Disclosure: I was lent a Sony Xperia Tablet Z with a Vodaphone connection for a couple of weeks and received no other benefits for writing this review.


  1. Now what did the man in red buy you for Christmas VP? A most detailed product review and you must have enjoyed putting the Sony tablet to the test. I've had an iPad for just over a year but have rarely used it outside. It's mainly been the glare factor that puts me off. I know that you can buy anti glare screen protectors but have not got round to buying any yet. I imagine that there must be a similar protector for Sony tablets. I've noticed problems commenting on blogs especially Blogger ones when using the iPad and word processing can sometimes be frustrating. Have yet to compose a blog post using it - will have to try sometime.

    1. He brought me a shiny new version of the scratched tablet I tested :)

      I'm hesitating over buying an anti glare screen as I don't think I'm really going to use this outside that much.

      As for writing blog posts - fine for Wordless Wednesday ;) + possibly posts the length that My Tiny Plot does. I know Gill does quite a bit of blogging via her mobile and she doesn't use links that much. Posts like the ones we do would be quite frustrating to do, as well as taking longer than when on the good old laptop.

  2. I tend to avoid blogging outside, I have tried a couple of times on the laptop but tend to go back inside.

  3. Yes, it all seems lovely, sitting outside with laptop etc, doesn't it? But I gave up the idea some time ago after I'd spent 10 mins rounding up papers every time the breeze stirred them.

    I use a Google Nexus and the glare is no good outside, and nor is it easy to blog on it - including links also proved a complete pain for me too, and Flash doesn't work. They're not a replacement for a laptop yet.

    I'm disappointed, Michelle. Fancy not going the whole way and throwing it in a bucket of water! :)

    1. I so wish it worked Helen, working outside would be great!

      I was tempted to do the bucket of water test, but there were so many dire warnings about being charged full cost if I didn't return the tablet on time, I was worried that would also be the case if I broke it!

  4. Email subscriber Tania Pauley has kindly emailed her comment, which Anna also mentions in her comment above:

    Have you tried a stick on anti glare screen saver?

    My reply is: not yet, but considering one now that I have one. It depends on how much I'm actually going to use this in the garden - probably not a lot for actual blogging.

  5. I struggle with screen glare inside with my laptop when the sun's out, so I know what you mean. Blogging in the garden does sound nice though.

    1. My study's in a north facing room, so I don't have that problem. Being able to blog outside reminds me of when we were allowed to have lessons outdoors at school. It'd be a real treat!

  6. I got an ipad for Christmas and tend to adjust the screen brightness depending on the situation, Yesterday in the car with bright sunshine I turned it up but when reading a book in the house I turn the brightness down and even set my page colour to a pale sepia tint much more comfortable. Can you not do the same on the Sony?


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